Are You Engaged in Grassroots Lobbying in New York? | Ask the Experts - State and Federal Communications

December 8, 2022  •  

Are You Engaged in Grassroots Lobbying in New York? | Ask the Experts

New York City Hall by Beyond My Ken

Q: I heard New York City requires registration and reporting for grassroots lobbying? Who is required to register and how do I comply with all the reporting requirements?

A: Yes, if an individual’s compensation or expenditures for grassroots lobbying exceeds $5,000 in the aggregate during a calendar year. Lobbying is considered any attempt to influence city officials, therefore all grassroots campaigns would be considered lobbying. The city law reflects the existing state law requiring registration and reporting for state lobbyists.

Once a grassroots campaign reaches the $5,000 lobbying threshold, bi-monthly periodic reports, an annual report, and fundraising and political consulting reports must be filed. Fundraising and political consulting reports are filed on the same bi-monthly schedule as the periodic reports.

For the bi-monthly periodic reports and the annual report, make sure you keep track of compensation, expenses, subjects lobbied, and names of the person and agencies lobbied. For the fundraising and political consulting reports, you will need to track compensation paid for fundraising and/or political consulting activities, a list of all persons or entities contracted for the purpose of providing fundraising and/or political consulting services, and the total dollar amount raised for each candidate for which such activities were performed.

Don’t forget when it comes to websites, a social media communication constitutes a grassroots lobbying communication when:

  1. References otherwise implicate an action covered by the term lobbying or lobbying activities;
  2. Takes a clear position on the action question; and
  3. Includes a call to action (i.e., solicits or exhorts the public, or a segment of the public, to contact a public official).

When grassroots lobbying through a social media communication is undertaken by an organization, through the organization’s social media account, this activity is reportable lobbying activity by the organization. When grassroots lobbying through a social media communication is undertaken by an individual, through their personal social media account, this activity is not reportable lobbying activity unless such individual is specifically retained by a client for such social media activity. Any expenses incurred to create, promote, place, or otherwise highlight an individual’s personal social media activity are reportable by the party incurring the expenses. A consultant’s activity on a grassroots campaign may be considered reportable lobbying if the consultant controlled the delivery and had input into the content of the message.

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